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Providing perspectives on recent research into vitamins and nutritionals

Archive for 'September 2012'


    100 Years of Vitamins

    100 years of vitamins. It was a century ago that a Polish biochemist, Dr Casimir Funk, identified factors which caused deficiency disorders when missing from the diet. He coined the term ‘vitamine’ from the Latin words “vita” for life and “amine” for nitrogen-containing chemical compounds. To commemorate this occasion, Honorable Frank Pallone, Jr, representative for the state of New Jersey, entered an acknowledgement honoring this 100th anniversary into the Congressional Record.

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    Together as Partners

    The UN General Assembly meets in New York City this week. Today, the high-level meeting on scaling up nutrition will be held. At last year’s meeting, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton said, “we are reminded not only of the importance of delivering food, but delivering nutrient-rich food while making long-term investments in food security”. What progress has been made? The UN Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) have 2015 goals. 6.9 million children under 5 years of age died in 2011. The goal is to reduce under-five mortality by 2/3 between 1990 and 2015.

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    Are You Deficient?

    A search of PubMed using the term “Vitamin D” yields 14,129 papers in the past 5 years and 23,269 papers over the past 10 years, representing a 54% increase publications from 2007 to 2012. Comparing the most recent 5 years vs the previous 5, there has been a modest increase in calcium (+5%) and folate (+13%) with a decrease in vitamin E research publications (-15%). Net result, there are more findings to report on vitamin D than other micronutrients. Today’s news is vitamin D (again). Brondum-Jacobsen and colleagues measure baseline serum 25(OH)D levels in 10,170 Danis

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    Will Vitamin D Keep Me from Being Overweight?

    Vitamin D is important. No question about it. Last September, an EFSA panel endorsed the health claim that consuming 800 IU of vitamin D daily can reduce the risk of falling. This is relevant because it is after a fall when the issue of bone strength becomes important. In 2010, EFSA had already recognized the role of vitamin D and calcium in reducing the loss of bone mineral density which may contribute to risk of bone fractures But vitamin D is not a panacea. So the recent paper published in Nutrition Journal draws surprising conclusions. In a double-blinded, randomized trial, Salehpour and colleagues allocated 77 overweight and obese women (mean BMI = 29.8) to placebo or 1000 IU vitamin D3 daily for 12 weeks. Body weight, waist, hip, fat mass and serum 25(OH)D levels were measured before and after the intervention. Not surprisingly,

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    Wanting a Soundbite on Omega-3s? Then Look No More

    Headlines are meant to be provocative, to be intriguing. The goal is to draw people in. Because of their effectiveness, headlines seem to favor shock and exaggeration over balance and perspective. It is unfortunate. Science is both exciting and mundane. The stereotypic ‘eureka’ moment is the excitement of a moment of insight. Then follows the mundane – the hours or designing and executing studies to test the hypothesis. Not validate but to rigorously test the hypothesis using every tool and design possible. Scientists get excited by the possibility of proving each other wrong. The outcome of these ventures is good science – the advancement of understanding. The outcome shouldn’t be good headlines. So it was particularly rewarding to read the article “Value of Omega-3s: Not Up for Debate” by Dr David L Katz

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    The Role of Vitamin D Beyond Bone Health

    Today is the New York Academy of Sciences “Vitamin D: Beyond Bone” event presented by The Sackler Institute for Nutrition Science and Abbott Nutrition Health Institute. It features speakers on the role of vitamins on cardiovascular systems, during pregnancy and lactation, and in modulating obesity, diabetes, cognitive function and chronic obstructive lung disease. It should be interesting. And for scientists, it may even be exciting! ;-) Low vitamin D levels have been linked with many health conditions,

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    The Fine Art of Balancing Caloric and Micronutrient Requirements

    Could you eat a healthier diet? If you say yes, it will probably cost more. A new European study reports an inverse association between diet costs and energy density. In other words, it costs more to eat a diet rich in vitamins and minerals. Alexy and associates examined the relationship between energy density and diet costs using dietary records collected from 494 German children (4-12y) and adolescents (13-18y). Not surprisingly, as kids grow up they eat more and it is more expensive to feed them. Meats and sausages accounted for the highest percentage (16.2%) of daily diet costs. Dairy was second (15.5%). Fruits and vegetables accounted for only 6-8% of food costs. Other studies have reported higher diet costs for more nutritionally dense diets.

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    Micronutrient Intake, Occupy Wall Street, and Presidential Elections

    What do nutrition and the Occupy Wall Street movement share? It is their obsession with the top 1% of the population. Occupy Wall Street focuses on income disparities, especially the top 1%, and nutritionists worry about people exceeding the Upper Limit (UL) for vitamins and minerals. The UL is the highest level of daily nutrient intake that is likely to pose no risk of adverse health effects to almost all individuals. The UL is used to guide nutrient intakes and in setting policy regarding food fortification and dietary supplement doses. However, as the presidential election coverage has focused attention during the past 2 days on the 47% of Americans who do not pay federal income tax, let’s consider those Americans who are not meeting recommended nutrient intakes.

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    Nutrition Policy, Nutrition Information, Nutrition Data

    Today’s blog is an exclusive article written for Everything Nutrition in Nutraceuticals World. What is the link between these three terms? Governments establish policies, hopefully creating options that promote nutrition, physical activity and health. In the US, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans are the cornerstone of federal nutrition policy and nutrition education activities. Policy is, or should be, based on the best data available and the totality of the evidence. The USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion links scientific evidence with the nutrition needs of consumers. They translate science to education and hopefully to action. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) works to protect the safety of the food supply and to encourage innovations that will promote public health.

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    Celebrating Nutrition and the First 1000 Days Today

    Happy New Year. In Judaism, Rosh Hashanah marks the completion of the creation of the world. An analogy can be drawn to a child’s birth which signals the completion of fetal growth and the introduction of a new life into the world. A new paper in Pediatrics finds that adequate vitamin D status in mothers during pregnancy may influence a child’s health in later life. Morales and colleagues measured serum 25(OH)D3 concentrations in 1,820 mother-infant pairs between November 2003 and Feb 2008. Median plasma serum 25(OH)D levels during the 1st trimester of pregnancy were 72.5 nmol/L. After adjustment for confounders, infants from women with serum 25(OH)D3 concentrations >75 nmol/L showed higher mental and psychomotor scores compared to those of mothers with vitamin D levels <50 nmol/L.

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    Thinking About My Brain and Optimal Mental Performance

    After a week of multi-tasking, deadlines, and follow-ups needed to keep work and personal lives under control, do you ever have that niggling feeling something else needs to be done? What have I forgotten? And that moment of doubt persists for hours, maybe days. As demands for your attention seem to increase with experience, remembering details becomes a constant lifelong struggle. Stress, aging, and nutrition are connected. A review of the literature by Marlatt and colleagues outlines the various pieces of evidence linking oxidative stress with cerebrovascular disease and cognitive dysfunction. Wang and colleagues measured levels of antioxidant carotenoids and omega-3 fatty acids in plasma and red blood cells in dementia patients. They found patients with higher carotenoid and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) concentrations had higher cognitive scores. In the most recent issue of the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, von Arnim and colleagues compared 74 individual

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    Marginal Vitamin B6 Deficiency Worsens Omega-3 Status

    For the past two days, you have been reading/hearing that omega-3 fatty acid supplementation is unnecessary. The suggestion is that you are wasting your money using omega-3 supplements. The reality is that few people consume enough omega-3 fatty acids. People simply do not regularly eat enough cold water fish or other foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Then we need to consider the study published by Zhao and colleagues in the October issue of the Journal of Nutrition. Based on animal data that severe vitamin B6 altered the fatty acid content of tissues, they set out to determine if marginal vitamin B6 deficiency in humans would affect their fatty acid status.

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    What about Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Cardiovascular Disease?

    What is a person to believe? Is nutrition important in maintaining health? The answer seems obvious. Everyone knows that nutrition is essential for life. Then how does one explain today’s latest meta-analysis? A meta-analysis is conducted by combining a number of different studies to increase the number of observations and then applying statistics to discern patterns. Ultimately, the interpretation depends upon the exact nature of the question being asked and the parameters used to include/exclude studies. Rizos and colleagues searched the published literature since 1989 for studies assessing the role of omega-3 supplementation on cardiovascular outcomes. From 3,655 citations, they analyzed 20 randomized, controlled trials (RCTs)

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    Is it Big Bones, or Vitamin D Deficiency? New Polymorphism Analysis of Chinese Women and Body Mass Index

    Globally, increases in obesity rates in many countries have been observed over the past few decades. Popkin, Adair and Ng summarize global concerns in their review. This has created worldwide health concerns due to the increasing burden of disease caused by excess body weight. There are many possible causes of obesity in populations, and the list of causes include decreasing physical activity levels, increasing food intakes, the macronutrient composition of foods as well as the balance of certain nutrients. One nutrient that has received some attention has been vitamin D. Observational studies show that vitamin D deficiency is found at higher levels in the obese, and questions have been asked whether this is an association or indicates causation.

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    What is the New Research on Nutrition and Heart Health?

    Sunday was a beautiful day in northeastern US. Walking in to the office Monday morning with the sun shining, a perfect fall day with crisp air, it was tempting to turn around and walk back out to play. Why not? Statistics show that Monday is the most likely day of the week to have a cardiovascular event. But is it work which needs to be avoided? Or should we focus on better nutrition? Three relevant studies were released by Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Disease last night. Wang and colleagues conducted a meta-analysis of prospective studies carried out between 1966 and 2010 examining folate intake and total heart disease endpoints.

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    Nurturing Brain Development in School Children with DHA

    Yesterday we discussed the importance of nutrition of children to learn. During the evening, a new randomized, controlled study measuring the effect of long-chain omega-3 docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) supplementation (600 mg/d vs corn/soy oil control) on reading, working memory and behavior of healthy 7-9y old school children (N = 362) was published in PLoS One. Richardson and colleagues recruited 362 healthy children who were underperforming in reading (bottom 1/3 of the class) from 74 primary schools.

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    Good Nutrition Provides the Foundation for Children to Learn

    As children return to school this week, every parent wants to provide every opportunity for them to succeed. So today’s blog emphasizes key nutrients. The human brain represents 2% of the body’s weight and uses 20% of the calories consumed daily. So calories are essential. This is one of the reasons that breakfast is called the most important meal of the day. Skipping breakfast is associated with decreased perceived level of energy and cheerfulness during the day. A review by Hoyland and colleagues reports that students perform on tests later in the morning when they have eaten vs skipped breakfast. Glucose for cognitive function is only part of the benefit. Breakfast also has long lasting benefits.

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    Who Aspires to be Frail? More About Vitamin D

    Between 2010 and 2030, there will be 54% increase in the proportion of US adults 65y and older. There will be an increase from 13% to 20% of the population being 65y or older. In a new European Journal of Clinical Nutrition paper, Smit and colleagues examine the association between frailty and mortality in free-living Americans 65y and older. Frailty was defined as meeting 3 or more of the following 5 conditions. Pre-frailty was defined as 1 or 2:

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    Has Your Child Gotten Enough Vitamin D Today?

    On Monday, the International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF) published a new interactive global map showing the prevalence of adult vitamin D inadequacy globally. Stephan B Tanda, Managing Board Member of DSM, wrote yesterday in Huffington Post that the ‘most striking data gaps are found in children and adolescents.” Today, Hazel and colleagues published a review on the role of vitamin D in the skeletal muscle physiology in children and adolescents. The review shows that a large percentage of children living in the US and Canada have inadequate vitamin D status, regardless of whether a cutoff level of 50 or 75 nmol/L of serum 25(OH)D is used. And the situation is not limited to North America. Suboptimal serum 25(OH)D concentrations have been reported in children living in China, Ireland, Middle Eastern countries and Europe.

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    Interactive Map of Vitamin D Status Around the World

    The International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF) launched a new interactive global map which provides a graphical illustration of vitamin D [25(OH)D] around the world. Vitamin D insufficiency is a major public health problem. In both emerging and established markets. More than 1/3 of the populations studied report insufficient serum 25(OH)D levels. Falling and bone fractures are a major public health problem. Bischoff-Ferrari and colleagues pooled data from 11 double-blind randomized controlled trials comparing oral vitamin D supplementation with placebo. Individuals using ≥800 IU vitamin D daily had a 30% reduction in risk of nonvertable fracture. The New Zealand MidCentral District Health Board has just reported that vitamin D supplementation by aged residential care residents contributed to a 41% reduction in

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